Counseling and School Psychology

Reducing Bias in Education

Data shows that American Indian and African American students are disproportionately represented in special education programs and discipline procedures involving suspensions and expulsions. This finding occurs in Minnesota and across the nation. In 1998, a committee convened to create A Vision for a Better Education: Reducing Bias in Special Education Assessment for American Indian and African American Students, a training manual for school professionals and caregivers aiming to reduce the disproportional representation of American Indian and African American students in special education.

Now, fifteen years later, the manual has been revised, under a new committee, to reflect the current literature, data, and implementation of promising practices to address factors that contribute to disproportionate representation of American Indian and African American students. On this site, you will find revisions of previous content and new chapters for the manual, with hyperlinks to help you navigate to data, information, and areas of interest. The material is in pdf format. It is best to have an active Internet link so that you are able to access other materials useful in promoting fair assessment of American Indian and African American students.

Please scroll down the page to access different chapters of the revised manual.

Acknowledgement: Please select to review a list of caregivers and professionals who contributed to this project.

Many people contributed to the revision of the manual, for a review of participants, please select Biographies.

Introduction: issues such as definitions of disproportionate representation, importance of multi-tiered systems of support, and aspects of fair assessment and ethical responsibilities of educators are reviewed.

Supporting caregivers is an important factor in promoting fairness, please select this link for a review of factors associated with Caregiver Engagement.

The school environment can be an important factor in the success of American Indian and African American students. For a review of data on status of American Indian and African American students, and methods to support students, select School Climate.

American Indians Today reviews historical factors, language loss and restoration, and culture of families important for educators to know.

Promoting fair assessment for African American Students reviews culture of families, perspectives of students, and social factors important to consider within the assessment process.

Assessment factors reviews issues important to address to develop a full understanding of the needs of students.

Forms and Checklists useful in monitoring services related to American Indian and African American Students.

Glossary of terms commonly used in special education services.

Vision & Outcomes

The developers of the revised Promoting Fairness - Reducing Bias Manual have agreed to the following Vision:  A better education for American Indian and African American students is of a school community that embraces all learners and their needs, particularly American Indian and African American students, who have endured longstanding discrimination in the educational system and in society at large.

A Vision for Minnesota Education:  Involves the elimination of bias throughout the spectrum of services American Indian and African American students encounter in schools, resulting in settings where students from both backgrounds feel respect for their culture, language, and traditions, and where their treatment in school settings supports their identity and development, while significantly reducing the impact of placement in services not appropriate to their needs, or inappropriate placement in services that restrict their assess to general education.  


  • Reduce disproportional and unnecessary assessment of American Indian and African American Students and placement in special education programs.    
  • Reduce the rate of suspensions and expulsions for American Indian and African American students.  
  • Produce materials providing promising practices and strategies along the continuum of services (Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3, and Special Education) for American Indian and African American students.   
  • Provide training for educators on culturally responsive practices.    
  • Create forms to support districts in assessing their progress and to show evidence of positive practice to the public.    
  • Create mechanisms to assess school climate and make adaptations that support students and families.    
  • Develop sustainable training materials on school culture and climate that are adaptable over time.    
  • Provide discussion on assessment guidelines and promising practices models for special education evaluations, placement decisions, and intervention programming.   
  • Expand knowledge and use of positive practices related to cultural and linguistic diversity.    
  • Provide knowledge on issues to improve partnerships with caregivers that promote success for American Indian and African American Students, and which strengthen relationships between caregivers, educators, and administrators.

Project Contact Information

Donald Lee Stovall, Psy.D.
Reducing Bias Project Director
University of Wisconsin-River Falls
715-425-3291 (office)


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Contact Us

Caroline Baker
Counseling Program Director
224 Wyman Education Building

Scott Woitaszewski
School Psychology Program Director
227 Wyman Education Building